Directions: Complete all parts of the study guide. You do not have to use complete sentences. Try to answer as much as you can without your notes or textbook to give yourself a better idea of how prepared you are for the test

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Anglo-Saxon Literature/Beowulf Test Study Guide

Test Date: September 5, 2014

Directions: Complete ALL parts of the study guide. You do NOT have to use complete sentences. Try to answer as much as you can without your notes or textbook to give yourself a better idea of how prepared you are for the test. Turning in a COMPLETED study guide the day before the test will earn you 10 points added to your average for the test.
Anglo-Saxon Background

  1. List the people who invaded and conquered Britain? The collapse of what empire left Britain vulnerable to invasions?

Romans, Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Normans; Roman Empire

  1. Who ruled after the Romans?


  1. For how long did they rule?

About 500 years

  1. What leader united these clans?

Alfred the Great

  1. The literature of this time has some common themes and ideals of conduct. List them.

Themes: isolation, sorrow; Ideals: Bravery, loyalty, Honesty

  1. In 1066, what country invaded England and who led them?

Normandy; William the Conqueror

  1. After 1066, what was the language of literature?

French and Anglo-Saxon combined (became “Middle” English)

  1. Define feudal system.

A hierarchy of society based on the exchange of goods/services for land

  1. What language did monks use when writing?


  1. How did literary works written in English help England?

Gave them a sense of shared identity

  1. For how long did the Romans rule?

Approximately 500 years

  1. Describe the Vikings.

Brutal barbarians who attempted to invade, but were defeated

  1. What bonded the Anglo Saxons and caused them to survive?

A common enemy in the Vikings

  1. What unified the Anglo Saxons?

King Alfred the Great

  1. Who introduced Christianity?

Christian monks

  1. Who defeated the Anglo Saxons? When?

The Normans in 1066

  1. In what form was the Anglo Saxon literature (poetry)?

Song, epic/narrative poetry

18. Define Alliteration.

Several words beginning with a consonant sound

19. What is a scop?

Men who sang the Anglo-Saxon poems

20. Define kenning.

Compounds words that depict an image/noun

21. For the non-Christian, what was the only thing that prevented death?

Becoming a legend

22. Describe the hierarchy of the following (slaves, churls, thanes, and king).

King, thanes (fought for him in exchange for land), churls (maintained a thane’s land in exchange for service if needed and the right to collect food from peasants), and slaves (worked the land for the right to live there)

23. What is the Exeter Book? Why is it so important today?

A book ordered by Alfred the Great to record the collective literature of Britain (oral stories to be written down)
Anglo-Saxon Poetry

  1. Describe the Celtic people and their religion.

Many tribes who warred with each other; pagan religion

  1. What are the core values of the Anglo-Saxon culture?

War culture

  1. What is a Mead hall? Why is it significant?

Gathering place for kings and their thanes where they feasted, drank, and told stories

  1. What is a caesura?

A break in a line of poetry

  1. What are the characteristics of an Epic?

Long, narrative poems about the deeds of heroes
**Know the following concepts**

The Seafarer

Theme of exile

Imagery that shows isolation and despair

Christian vs. Pagan elements
The Wanderer

Theme of exile

Imagery that shows isolation and despair
The Wife’s Lament

Theme of exile


Shift in purpose in final stanza


  1. What is the name of Hrothgar’s hall?


  1. Beowulf was the strongest and bravest of which group of people?

The Geats

  1. How many men did Grendel snatch up on his first bloody trip into Herot?


  1. Who was Grendel the descendent of?


  1. Why did Grendel not attack the throne of Hrothgar?

It was protected by God

  1. What was the “weapon” Beowulf used against Grendel?

His strength (no external weapon)

  1. How did Beowulf’s men react as Beowulf fights Grendel?

They attempted to hack at Grendel’s skin, but to no avail

  1. What does Beowulf hang from the rafters after his fight with Grendel?

Grendel’s arm

  1. How many giants did Beowulf boast to have killed, making him qualified to fight Grendel?


  1. Beowulf represents this quality in the poem and Grendel represents this quality, the opposite.

Good vs. evil

  1. The line, “fate that night intended Grendel to gnaw the broken bones of his last human supper” foreshadow this…

Grendel will not survive the fight

  1. Why can’t Beowulf and the other soldiers’ swords hurt Grendel?

His skin is protected

  1. What is the name of a story that is only spread by word of mouth?

Oral tradition

  1. What is the definition of an epic?

A long narrative poem that deals with the deeds of heroes and the doings of gods

  1. Define heroic verse.

Poems with a regular rhythm (meter) with elevated speech

  1. Define elegy.

A funeral poem

  1. Who is responsible for writing down the epic Beowulf? How did it change with the written recording?

The author is unknown; when the Christian monks recorded it for the Exeter Book, they added Christian elements

  1. Be able to identify the following:

    1. Mankind’s enemy Grendel

    2. Wextan’s son Wiglaf

    3. The Geat’s great prince Beowulf

    4. The greedy she-wolf Grendel’s mother

    5. The great king of the Danes Hrothgar

    6. Whale-road ocean

  1. What does Beowulf take from the lake?

Grendel’s head

  1. Who remains loyal to Beowulf during his last battle? Where did the rest of his men go?

Wiglaf; they ran away

  1. What motivates Beowulf?

A need for glory; to be remembered for all eternity

  1. Explain the motivation behind each of the three monsters in Beowulf.

Grendel – kills because of the noise from Herot (jealous of their favor from God)

Grendel’s Mother – kills for revenge for her son

The dragon –kills to protect its treasure

  1. Why is Wiglaf a worthy successor to Beowulf?

He is the only soldier to stay by Beowulf’s side during his final battle
Test Format:

65 questions total

21 multiple choice on Anglo-Saxon history and background of Beowulf

10 multiple choice on Anglo-Saxon poetry

7 matching characters to their descriptions

20 multiple choice on story of Beowulf

5 true/false on story of Beowulf

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